Dodge County 4-Hers celebrated the 100th birthday of 4-H in a big way at the Dodge County Fair. The fair celebrations were just a part of year-long activities planned to recognize how communities have benefited by generations of 4-H families.
Friday, 4-Hers took part in a celebration of history by formally presenting the time capsule featuring a variety of items submitted by clubs. Thirteen clubs submitted items for the time capsule, including a wood-burned plaque, dairy bingo cards and club photos.
Plans are to open the time capsule in when 4-H turns 125 at the 2039 Dodge County Fair.
On Saturday, 4-Hers gathered to parade through the fairgrounds wearing green and carrying their fair entries. A wagon filled with long-time 4-H leaders led the parade. It was a revival of the old-time tradition from many years ago of parading with projects through the grounds.
Among the leaders on the wagon was Loretta Owens Claggett, 95, of Waupun.
Clagget was a 4-H leader for 52 years and a member of 4-H before that.
She enjoyed riding through the fairgrounds and reminiscing about her years in 4-H.
"When I was young, the fair was in Beaver Dam where Wayland Academy is located now," she said. "I dreamed of earning enough money so I could ride on every ride at the fair."
Earning five dollars a week, she saved enough to accomplish her goal but she said, "I rode all the rides, and I got sick. When I got off the last one I was dizzy and hung onto a pole. I was teaching school, and the next week one of the men from the school came in my room and told me the rumor was that I was seen in public drunk and they could not have a teacher who drinks."
She grew up on a farm between Beaver Dam and Randolph, but her parents lost it during the Great Depression. They moved to Horicon where her dad worked. He had a wooden leg due to losing his leg in a horse accident.
"We would go to the fair and he always won a prize from the man who would guess your weight," she said. "He had the wooden leg and that made him heavier than he looked."
Clagget vividly recalled her first sewing project in 4-H and the critique she received from the judge at the county fair. She also remembered making undergarments as a part of her 4-H project.
As a 4-H leader, she taught several projects, but she was best known for teaching leather craft, a project she also took as a member. She still makes leather craft pieces at her residence in the Christian Home in Waupun.
Over the years, she also helped other neighboring counties that did not have a leather craft leader.
All six of her children went through 4-H, and a few of her 28 grandchildren also participated in 4-H over the years. She has 29 great-grandchildren.
Darlene McCullum of Horicon was also a part of Saturday's parade.
"I remember participating in the parades like this that 4-Hers had at the fair when I was in 4-H," she said
She showed white-face beef cattle and remembers leading them through the parade. "It was always hard," she said, "to keep the white faces clean for the fair.
"I remember each year going to the stock yards in Milwaukee with our dad and my brother (Harvey Steinbach) and I climbed up on the gate and looked over the calves. We each picked one for our fair project, and the trucker brought them back home.
"I also remember going to National 4-H Congress in Chicago in about 1954. We got on the train at south Beaver Dam, and each of us from Wisconsin wore a red scarf around our necks to identify that we were from Wisconsin."
Earlier this year, Dodge County 4-Hers celebrated the centennial with an old fashioned box social for county board members. In March, a busload of local 4-Hers participated in the statewide celebration at the State Capital in Madison.
The celebration will continue at the Old Time Gathering on Sept. 13 at the fairgrounds.